Sadhguru looks at exactly what makes yoga so popular today, and how yoga is the only process of wellbeing that has stood the test of time.
Sadhguru: There are many reasons why yoga is becoming popular. One thing is that it makes you realize some fundamental facts about yourself. Once in a kindergarten school, the teacher asked the students, “If I stand on my head, you will see my face will turn red because blood flows into my head. But that does not happen when I stand on my feet. Why?” A little fellow said, “Because the feet aren't empty.”
Your body is like a barometer. If you know how to watch it, it tells you everything about you. Not the fancy things that you think about yourself, the real facts about you. Your mind is too deceptive. Every day it says a different thing about you. If you know how to read the body it tells you everything just the way it is, your past, present and future – in a way. That is why fundamental yoga starts with the body.
So, many other things come and go with changing fashions, but yoga has survived for thousands of years and is still picking up momentum. Even though it may be transmitted in a very rudimentary way and many times in a distorted manner, it still endures. Yoga is the only system which has lived for over 15,000 years without any papacy or enforcement. Nowhere in the history of humanity has it happened that somebody put a sword to someone’s neck and said, “You must do yoga.” It has survived and lived on because it has worked as a process of well-being like nothing else.
Another thing is, generally in the world, people – young or old – are stressed like never before. People are anxious and neurotic and whatever methods they employ to handle internal turmoil – by going to a disco or going for a drive or climbing a mountain – it has worked to some extent, but it has not given them a solution. So, looking towards yoga is a very natural thing.
The reason for its growing popularity is the large scale transmission of education. We have more intellect on this planet today than ever before. So, naturally as the intellect becomes stronger, people look for logical solutions to everything. The more logical they become, the more they become dependent on science and the outcome of science is technology. As the activity of the intellect becomes stronger in the world, more people will shift to yoga over a period of time and it will become the most popular way of seeking wellbeing.
Yoga is Not an Exercise
Today, the way yoga is being done right now in most places of the world, it is a stillbirth. It is better not to get pregnant than to have a stillbirth, isn't it? If you want six abs or whatever number, I would say go and play tennis or hike in the mountains. Yoga is not an exercise; it has other dimensions attached to it. A different dimension of fitness, yes – you may get health out of it but not six abs.
After twenty years of yoga entering the West and becoming popular, medical professionals are now coming forth and making studies and saying, “Yoga has benefits.” Though it is taught in frivolous ways, still the health benefits of it are undeniable around the world. But if improper, distorted kind of yoga spreads, in ten to fifteen years’ time, scientific studies will clearly come out and tell you in how many ways it is harmful to human beings, and that will be the downfall.
Yoga needs to be practiced in a very subtle, gentle way, not in a forceful muscle building way, because this is not about exercise. The physical body has a whole memory structure. If you are willing to read this physical body, everything – how this cosmos evolved from nothingness to this point – is written into this body. Yoga is a way of opening up that memory and trying to restructure this life towards an ultimate possibility. It is a very subtle and scientific process.
Editor’s Note: Check out the “5-minute Yoga Tools for Transformation” – simple upa-yoga practices for joy, peace, wellbeing, success and more. You can also download the app, or join or host a workshop, or train to become a facilitator for the practices.